How To Draw and Animate Book List

Here’s some of the books I would recommend to people wanting to draw better or those wanting to get into animation or improve their skills. The recommended book list includes animation how-to manuals, drawing books, story telling books and art-of books. Goodluck!

You can find more animation tips here.

Illusion of Life
Disney Animation: The Illusion of Life
By Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston Hyperion Press
ISBN 0-7868-6070-7
If I can recommend that you buy one book for animation, it would be this one.  It is the only book that was regularly cited and recommended by my teachers at Calarts, and probably the most informative all around.  A very large book… I’ve found that the better I get at understanding animation, the more informative the book is.  It’s been out of print for a very long time and was just recently reprinted. I say get it while it’s here.
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Character Animation Crash Course!
Character Animation Crash Course!
By Eric Goldberg
Mr. Goldberg is one of the best feature animators and is so good at teaching. This book is really a must have. I only wish he would do another book!
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Animator's Survival Kit
The Animator’s Survival Kit
By Richard Williams
Animation book by master animator Richard Williams.
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“Designing Cartoon Characters For Animation” 
& “Layout and Design Made Amazingly Simple” 
By Brian Lemay
(Sheridan College Text books.)
These books are EXCELLENT.  Probably the most in depth books I have seen… including information on cleaning up drawings well (in detail of various line qualities and the like), making character model sheets, in depth tips for figuring out layout, I could keep going… They are basically like text books from Lemay’s classes. I highly recommend them for technicall knowledge alone.
$25 and $35 (respectively)
You can order them from the author.His email is


Animation from Script to Screen
Animation from Script to Screen “
By Culhane
St. Martin’s Press
By by a veteran of Disney, Fleischer, Lantz and TV commercials. This book tell how to master the “quick sketch” technique and how to market yourself and improve your skills to professional level. I found the quick sketch exercises in this book very helpful when I was starting out to improve my speed and improve my drawing skills.
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How to Draw Batman
“How to Draw Batman”
By Ty Templeton
Walter Foster Publishing
On the surface it looks like one of those lame little “draw it step by step… here’s a circle…that’s his head”.  But don’t be fooled, its really a very insightfull how to book by the the artist for the Batman Animated comic.  He covers stuff like having strong sillouette, good poses, line quality, its a great book… and also deals with making perspective easier.  It’s great, grab a copy if you can, I think you’ll be pleasantly suprised.
Originally about $4 to $8.
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“How to Draw Tarzan”
Walter Foster Publishing
Yes, another “how to draw” book from Walter Foster.  This difference in this one being that it actually shows you more in depth how to draw them on-model, like say the exact slope of Tarzan’s nose, and how his eyes work, etc.  Or the exact shape that is correct and inncorrect for Jane’s teeth.  I thought it was pretty enjoyable. Of course you’re not going to get a job learning to draw Tarzan, but if you want to draw him anyway, this is a very good book.  Better than a kids book.
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Cartoon Animation
& “How To Animate Film Cartoons”
(also compiled into “Cartoon Animation“)
By Preston Blair
Walter Foster Publishing
These are a great place to start.  I must suggest though that people not copy directly from the books… They are a good starting point and explain some stuff that other books don’t touch on, but people should learn, and then apply the techniques in new ways instead of animating exactly like Blair. They contain a lot of information for beginning animators a very affordable price. —
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Animators Workbook
The Animator’s Workbook
By Tony White
Watson-Guptill Publications
I don’t own this one… it’s similar to the Preston Blair books, but I personally think the Blair ones are better, but there’s some stuff in here that’s not in the Blair books, so check it out if you have a chance.—-Aimee
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Timing For Animation
“Timing For Animation”
By Harold Whitaker, John Halas
Focal Press
This looks like a great book explaining timing for animation (how to time your drawings and inbetween them so that they happen at a particular speed). This is information that every animator should know. I haven’t read this particular book.
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The Human Figure In Motion
The Human Figure In Motion” 
Eadweard Muybridge
These are invaluable to me. I was animating a walking peice the other day at a strange angle… and guess what book I ended up figuring out the motion from? If you are actively animating you should own these books to supplement your research… Bottom line. 10 years later, I still reference these books. —-Aimee
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Animals In Motion
“Animals In Motion” 
Eadweard Muybridge
These are invaluable to me. I was animating a walking peice the other day at a strange angle… and guess what book I ended up figuring out the motion from? If you are actively animating you should own these books to supplement your research… Bottom line. 10 years later, I still reference these books. —-Aimee
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Drawing Book List

Vilppu Drawing Manual
By Glen Vilppu
I’ve heard alot of really good things about Vippu, some of my coworkers highly recommend him. The manual is a twelve-chapter basic drawing course covering gesture, construction, anatomy and lighting. It is the same material Glenn teaches at the AAI, Disney and Warner Bros. Feature Animation.
To order, send $39.95 (CA residents add $3.30 sales tax), plus $3.00 shipping per copy to: Vilppu Studio, 2884 Calm Garden Road, Acton, CA 93510. Make checks available to Glenn Vilppu. For information: phone/fax (805) 269-1736; email
Natural Way to Draw
The Natural Way to Draw 
By Nicolades
Houghton Mifflin
He gives actual exercises to improve your ability to concentrate on art and “see” better. The exercises are intense and not of the casual reader. Unless you’re willing to do the work though, don’t bother buying it.  Recommended by people like Culhane and Chuck Jones.
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Figure Drawing for All It’s Worth
By Andrew Loomis
Loomis is famous for his drawing books! These books were out of print and sought after for a long time. Now back in print, don’t miss them!
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Bridgman’s Life Drawing
By George B. Bridgman
This book, and really all of Bridgman’s drawing books are excellent. (Other books: The book of one hundred hands, Constructive anatomy, Heads, feat and faces, etc.) When I first started life drawing I found his solid construction techniques extremely helpful (which is not to say that they are only for beginners.) Highly recommend.
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Dynamic Wrinkles and Drapery
By Burne Hogarth
A great book about how to draw clothes on a figure, showing the direction the wrinkles move and such. Very helpful!
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Samurai And Ninja Action Scene Collection
By Home Room
An awesome little book if you want a collection of poses of people in kimono, hakama or ninja outfits. It seems like a child’s book from the cover, but it’s really quite great if you need this sort of thing!
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Pose File
By Elte Shuppan
This is a series of books (ie, 1, 2, 3, etc.) which have nude figures in a great variety of poses. (not for kids) Japanese.
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Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain
Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain. 
By Betty Edwards
Jeremy P. Tarcher
This book is great for anyone. I’ve read it more than 4 times and each time I read it I get better. The book shows you how to use the right hemisphere of your brain. (the creative side) Probably the fastest way to learn how to draw what you see. I really recommend this to almost anyone.
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Story, Storyboarding and Layout Books

By Robert McKee
A great book on learning how to do story. It makes it very easy to understand how to build up your own plot from nothing and talks about the 3 parts of a story, etc. Highly recommend.
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The Five C’s of Cinematography
By Joseph V. Mascelli
A great book about visual storytelling in film, “camera angles, continuity, cutting, close-ups, composition”. It has screenshot examples and diagrams making it easy for you to understand the concepts. Highly recommend.
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The Visual Story, Second Edition
By Bruce Block
Another book on visual storytelling. I remember flagging many pages in this one! Highly recommend.
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Picture This
By Molly Bang
This is a small and to the point book on visual storytelling and composition. It takes the story of Little Red Riding Hood and shows, through using simple shapes, how changing the composition changes the feeling of an image.
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Sen to Chihiro no Kamikakushi Ekonte 
(Spirited Away Storyboards)
By Hayao MIYAZAKI, Publisher: Tokuma ShotenISBN: 4-19-861439-3
This is just one of the many complete storyboard books that Studio Ghibli has put out. You can see all of them here and you can find lists of Miyazaki books and isbns for them here as well. It’s wonderful to see the whole film in roughly drawn storyboard form. It’s really a wonder that they put these out.
These books are available at Japanese bookstores like Kinokuniya. You can ask them to order it if they don’t have it in stock. You might be able buy them on amazon japan if you know how to order from there.



“Art Of” Book List

Art of Tangled Disney’s The Art of Tangled
By Jeff Kurtti
Beautiful preproduction artwork by lots of artists and rough drawings by Keane and tons of other talented artists. Lovely book!
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Avatar The Art of the Last Airbender
By Bryan Konietzko
Totally charming art of book. Lots of developmental work from such a great series.
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The Tarzan Chronicles
By Howard E. Green
One of my favorite “art of” books. With tons of notes and journal entries from Glen Keane throughout the book… not to mention song notes from Phil Collins, the book has more preproduction “goodies” than most others of its kind.  The most inticing is the sheer amount of rough animation (very very goregeous roughs!).    The book is simply stunning.
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Batman Animated
Batman: Animated
By Paul Dini, Chip Kidd and Bruce Timm
Oh, this book is so gorgeous… tons of storyboards character designs, everything…. all in that wonderfull Batman style. You’ll find stuff from the original series as well as the more recent designs for the later seasons… And the have info on the toys that were made for the series as well, its wonderfull.
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Art of the Lion King
The Art of the Lion King. 
By James Earl Jones, Charles Finch
Like all of the “art of” books there’s lot of pictures, storyboard art, rough animation, and insight into how the movie was made.  The book is probably one of the most attractive in my opinion, and one of the main draws for me was the good amount of Chris Sanders storyboard art in it.  If you like seeing the preproduction work like I do, you’ll love the book.
 Aladdin, The Making Of Disney’s Aladdin: Making of the Animated Film
By John Culhane
This is one of my favorite ‘art of’ books, next to the Tarzan Chronicles, for the reason that it has just SO much rough animation in it (my favorite part of the preproduction work).  You’ll find a ton of rough Glen Keane stuff for Aladdin as well as gorgeous roughs by the other animators on the film.  Mine is well-loved.
OUT OF PRINT but sometimes available,
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The Art of Mulan
The Art of Mulan. 
By Jeff Kurtti
Another one of the “art ofs”  Some of the stuff in here is very well done, if you like Mulan, you’ll like the book. (once again some lovely stylized storyboard art by Chris Sanders). There’s some really interesting completely asian styled early production work in here that is great.
OUT OF PRINT but sometimes available, Order online at
The Art of Hercules
The Art of Hercules: The Chaos of Creation
By Stephen Rubello
This is one of my favorite of the art of books, simply for the ton of research that went into making the film Greek looking, you see more of that in this book than in the Mulan book, in my opinion, plus some of the rough animation they show of Megara, Hades, as well as early character designs for the Titans are just great!  Cool book.
OUT OF PRINT but sometimes available,Order online at
Disney’s The Art of the Hunchback of Notre Dame
By Stephen Rubello
Has some really interesting early development work for the gargoyles, Frollo and Esmerelda as well as alot of really aweinspiring building paintings…. once again, if you liked Hunchback, you’ll love this book, it has a ton of really great preproduction stuff.
out of print but sometimes available.
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Art of Pocahontas Disney’s The Art of Pocahontas
By Stephen Rubello
Once again, tons of great stuff from Pocahontas, alot of the early character designs are really interesting, especially the early drawings of Pocahontas, there’s also a huge amount of gorgeous charcoal storyboards and rough animation by Keane in here.
out of print but sometimes available.Order online at
The Prince of Egypt: A New Vision in Animation
The Prince of Egypt: A New Vision in Animation
By Charles Solomon
I was kinda dissappointed by this book… the movie has some lovely preproduction art that I was able to see when I visited Dreamworks, but they just dont have that much rough animation or character stuff in here.  There’s a bunch of screenshots, but I’ve seen the movie, I dont want to see more screenshots.  The saving grace of this book is a really lovely collection of artwork by some of the storyboard artists, they have a really awesome style that makes the book worth buying.
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The Art of Animation
Disney’s The Art of Animation from Mickey Mouse to Hercules
By Bob Thomas
This book is exactly like the other “Art of Animation” book by Bob Thomas, only instead of the Beauty and the Beast supplement, it has a Hercules one in the back.  If you’re a fan of Hercules, you’ll find artwork in here that wasn’t in the full “Art of Hercules” book by Stephen Rubello.
The information about the films other than Hercules in here is pretty rudimentary though.
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batb Disney’s The Art of Animation from Mickey Mouse to Beauty and the Beast
By Bob Thomas
The majority of the book is spent giving a basic overview of the animated films so far… BUT there’s a large section on the art of Beauty and the Beast, and since a full book for BATB was never made, if you’re a fan of the film, its very worth the purchase.  Gorgeous rough work and character development drawings by Baxter, Deja and Keane.
OUT OF PRINT but sometimes available
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How To Animate